High School Wrestling:
Saturday, February 20, 1999
By Art Redd
Finally, the Camden Catholic Fighting Irish wrestling team got past their nemesis St. Joseph Montvale to capture the Parochial "A" State Championship. This was the third year in a row that these two teams have met for the state title, with St. Joe's holding a 2-0 advantage. It was the Fighting Irish's turn to represent South Jersey and prove they could capture the title, and they did. Especially with the freshman sensation Bob Stinson (24-0) keeping his undefeated record intact, Camden Catholic went ahead with Stinson's pin with 1:26 into the match to highlight the meet. The Irish went on to defeat their opponent 35-27.
The Irish got off to a good start by steam rolling through the initial four matches, where Brian Boland's pin 3:20 into his match helped his team to jump out to a 19-0 lead. But the Green Knights didn't make it to the finals just to see a strong South Jersey team dominate them. St. Joe's closed the lead to 19-12 when Erik Norgaard pinned Tom Sipera in the 140 match and brought life into the visiting team.
Just when Camden Catholic got a little breathing room, St. Joe would close the lead with some hard fought wrestling. In the 160 match, Harry Gooch's two-point takedown with 13 seconds remaining tied Camden Catholic's Mike Franchi and sent their match into overtime. Finally Gooch scored a 3 point near fall to pull St. Joe's to a 22-21 deficit. But that would be the closest the Irish allowed their opponents to get. After Frank Cornely scored a victory over Matt Romeo in the 171 match, the Irish were on their way to receiving their trophy. Finally, another crowd favorite Sean Milowe pinned Justin Merzeau to ignite the hometown fans and start the celebrations.
Camden Catholic now has captured their seventh Parochial "A" championship. This young group of guys has a lot of experience on this team with four returning District Champs and 27 Olympic and District titles. So expect to hear the Irish capturing more titles in the future.
Photos by Boog Williams
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